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Hamas Is Rebuilding Its West Bank Infrastructure

Israeli forces recently found and killed the head of the Hamas cell responsible for murdering Rabbi Raziel Shevach in January. To Ron Ben-Yishai this attack, unlike other recent stabbings and shooting, was the work of professional terrorists—and is thus a sign of a Hamas resurgence:

It was immediately clear that the [attack in January] was carried out by a professional, well-trained, and well-funded terror cell that carefully chose the location of the ambush, escape routes, and hiding places for after the attack. . . . What this means is that this was no “local resistance organization” or “lone-wolf attack” but rather the act of a well-entrenched terrorism infrastructure. . . . The difference between an organized terror infrastructure and local, popular terrorism is the amount of time required for its establishment, including “executioners,” collaborators to assist them, and a well-funded command center, probably located on land not directly under Israeli control. Also necessary are effective and secretive communications channels.

In the case of the [recently uncovered] Jarrar squad—headed by members of the Jarrar family—it is now known that its members carried out a number of terror attacks before Shevach’s murder. Despite those attacks, they managed to evade discovery by Israeli security forces. . . .

In general, the infrastructure of the Jarrar cell is reminiscent of Hamas’s organization during the second intifada. . . . For some years now, we have not witnessed such phenomena and infrastructure in the West Bank. This means that Hamas has finally succeeded in creating a competent terror infrastructure—unbeknownst to the IDF and Shin Bet—because they used clandestine methods typical of an established and proficient terror underground with a competent . . . command-and-control infrastructure.

The conclusion is that the Shin Bet and the IDF must now focus more intelligence and operational efforts toward thwarting established and sophisticated terrorism of the kind that existed during the second intifada until it was crushed in 2007.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Palestinian terror, West Bank

How Lebanon—and Hizballah—Conned and Humiliated Rex Tillerson

Feb. 21 2018

Last Thursday, the American secretary of state arrived in Beirut to express Washington’s continued support for the country’s government, which is now entirely aligned with Hizballah. His visit came shortly after Israel’s showdown with Hizballah’s Iranian protectors in Syria and amid repeated warnings from Jerusalem about the terrorist organization’s growing threat to Israeli security. To Tony Badran, Tillerson’s pronouncements regarding Lebanon have demonstrated the incoherence of the Trump administration’s policy:

[In Beirut], Tillerson was made to sit alone in a room with no American flag in sight and wait—as photographers took pictures and video—before Hizballah’s chief allies in Lebanon’s government, President Michel Aoun and his son-in-law the foreign minister, finally came out to greet him. Images of the U.S. secretary of state fidgeting in front of an empty chair were then broadcast across the Middle East to symbolize American impotence at a fateful moment for the region. . . .

Prior to heading to Beirut, Tillerson gave an interview to the American Arabic-language station al-Hurra, in which he emphasized that Hizballah was a terrorist organization, and that the United States expected cooperation from the “Lebanon government to deal very clearly and firmly with those activities undertaken by Lebanese Hizballah that are unacceptable to the rest of the world.” . . . But then, while in Jordan, Tillerson undermined any potential hints of firmness by reading from an entirely different script—one that encapsulates the confused nonsense that is U.S. Lebanon policy. Hizballah is “influenced by Iran,” Tillerson said. But, he added, “We also have to acknowledge the reality that they also are part of the political process in Lebanon”—which apparently makes being “influenced by Iran” and being a terrorist group OK. . . .

The reality on the ground in Lebanon, [however], is [that] Hizballah is not only a part of the Lebanese government, it controls it—along with all of the country’s illustrious “institutions,” including the Lebanese Armed Forces. . . .

[Meanwhile], Israel’s tactical Syria-focused approach to the growing threat on its borders has kept the peace so far, but it has come at a cost. For one thing, it does not address the broader strategic factor of Iran’s growing position in Syria, and it leaves Iran’s other regional headquarters in Lebanon untouched. Also, it sets a pace that is more suitable to Iran’s interests. The Iranians can absorb tactical strikes so long as they are able to consolidate their strategic position in Syria and Lebanon. Not only have the Iranians been able to fly a drone into Israel but also their allies and assets have made gains on the ground near the northern Golan and in Mount Hermon. As Iran’s position strengthens, and as Israel’s military and political hand weakens, the Israelis will soon be left with little choice other than to launch a devastating war.

To avoid that outcome, the United States needs to adjust its policy—and fast. Rather than leaving Israel to navigate around the Russians and go after Iran’s assets in Syria and Lebanon on its own, it should endorse Israel’s red lines regarding Iran in Syria, and amplify its campaign against Iranian assets. In addition, it should revise its Lebanon policy and end its investment in the Hizballah-controlled order there.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Politics & Current Affairs, Rex Tillerson, U.S. Foreign policy